4.9 Country Case Studies


Out of sight, out of mind

On the surface, Japan’s performance on collection and recycling seems impressive.

However, despite citizens’ very high commitment to separate collection, there is little awareness that most waste is actually incinerated or exported. Corporate and government action is limited and there is no current legislation for the reduction of single-use plastics, besides a plastic-bag fee with several loopholes.

A single banana wrapped in plastic. Credit: Pietro Bruni

The response by companies in Japan is also disappointing, with only a handful of corporates declaring any commitment to tackling the plastic crisis. Beyond Japan’s borders, the government is also pushing their 3Rs Initiative (reduce, reuse & recycle), which at a closer look, in fact includes the use of problematic incineration technologies and bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics as part of its foreign aid ‘solutions’; a concerning trend that may lock other countries into unsustainable systems.

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